This NY Times Cooking recipe, created by Yewande Komolafe, adapted by us, has quickly become one of our favorite dinners. If you’ve never had roasted fresh fennel, you are in for a treat!
While this delicious recipe only requires one pan for cooking, the prep makes quite a mess. Trust me, the cleanup is a small price to pay for this tasty dish.
We like a lot of vegetables, and the amount of dressing seems a bit shy in the original, so I have adjusted quantities to be in line with what we use. I encourage you to experiment with these and find what suits your taste.
Total Time: 1 hour, more or less
Fill-O-Meter Rating: Just right!
Leftover potential: We just don’t know - we always make and eat just enough for one meal. If you try it and have leftovers, let us know how they are!
Wife’s Rating: Fantastic! Best “salad” I’ve ever had (meal is veggies and chicken over greens). Great summer meal, if you don’t mind using the oven. And fennel…my new favorite vegetable!
2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on (about 3 lbs.)
Olive oil, 1/2 cup or less
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
1 medium bulb fresh fennel
For the Dressing
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4+ cloves garlic (Caution: We love garlic and go heavy)
1 1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
1/2+ cup pecorino cheese (grated or crumbled)
1/4 cup fresh parsley (leaves and small stems)
2+ cups baby spinach (or kale, chard, etc.)
We tend to go easy on the oil, using just enough to coat the chicken and then the vegetables.
Fennel can vary wildly in the size of the bulb and quantity of fronds (that hairy stuff on the stalks). If the bulbs are too small, or the fronds insufficient, I’ll use more of them. You’ll find your way with this after preparing this once or twice.
While we’re here, let’s talk about the cheese. I have found the dressing in the original recipe to be pretty thick. After some experimentation, I’ve been using about half the cheese (+/-) and it seems about right. Experiment!
1 large, rimmed sheet pan. How large? I use a 12” by 18” sheet to prepare 2 servings. If you’re preparing more, you may need a bigger boat.
Cutting board and sharp knife (duh)
Garlic press (optional)
Citrus press (or your hands)
Zester or plane grater
2 bowls - large for the chicken and veggies, and medium/small for the dressing
Hand mixer or whisk
Preheat to 425F. (Do this now! I always forget)
This recipe requires no advance prep work. All the slicing and dicing instructions are integrated into the cooking process that follows. BUT, if you’d like to do your slicing and dicing in advance, click here for a quick guide to what you’ll need to do.
Now let’s get to the cooking.
Prepare the chicken breasts
Toss the breasts in a large bowl with olive oil to coat the chicken, about ½ Tbsp. per breast. Season with salt and pepper. Keep the bowl handy for the next task.
Now, arrange the breasts on the cooking sheet, skin side up.
Pop the breasts into the oven. (You pre-heated the oven, right?) for 10-12 minutes.
Note: The original recipe does not call for this, but we’ve found the chicken benefits from the extra oven time. This results in a nice crisp skin and tender meat when cooking is completed.
Prepare the sweet potatoes and fennel bulb
Peel the 1 lb. of potatoes and cube into ¾” bits.
Wash the medium fennel bulb.
Remove the stalks and fronds and set aside.
Trim the bottom ¼” or so from the bulb.
Chop the bulb into ¾” slices -- denser parts should be sliced a bit smaller. I do vertical slices but suit yourself.
Throw the chopped veggies in the bowl you used for the chicken.
Add more oil (about ½ Tbsp. per person, more if you over-veggie like we do). It should coat the veggies when you mix it. As noted, we tend to go light on the oil.
Season with salt and pepper and toss.
Cook the chicken and veggies
Add the veggies to the sheet pan, arranging them around the chicken in an even (as much as possible) layer, then pop the pan back in the oven.
Roast for an additional 35-45 minutes.
Now, wash out your veggie bowl – but keep it around for later use.
Dive into the next two steps while this is cooking.
Prepare the dressing
Whisking by hand works well, but if you prefer a thicker dressing, prepare this in a small blender. In either case you’ll have about 2 cups of dressing. As you get familiar with the recipe, you can adjust your amounts accordingly.
Into a bowl or blender, zest the lemon then juice it. If you don’t like a lemony flavor, maybe use half the juice.
Add 1 Tbsp. smooth dijon mustard, press/grate the garlic (2 cloves per person, at least) and add 1 Tsp. pepper (to taste).
Whisk or blend to combine ingredients.
If you’re using a bowl, whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil in a slow stream.
If using the blender, drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil, blend to your desired consistency and pour the mixture into your bowl.
Stir in the pecorino cheese. Start with 1/2 cup and stop when you reach your target viscosity.
Pop in the fridge to chill for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the herbs
Chop the fennel fronds and 1/4 cup parsley leaves and tender stems. Put them in the reserved bowl.
Start checking for doneness after about 35 minutes. The fennel should be starting to carmelize at the edges, potatoes browning, and the chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F. You can also poke the chicken and check for juices running clear.
When chicken is done, remove the breasts to a cutting board. Cut the chicken off the bone and slice.
Remove the roasted veggies, add them to the bowl with the fennel/parsley mix and toss.
Put a helping (handful) or leafy greens on each plate, top with sliced chicken and veggies.
Let each person spoon pecorino vinaigrette over the chicken and veggies.
This sounds so good!